Tag Archive for anthony neil smith

Brain Dump

Storms have rolled through here every day for the past several days. There’s a lull in one right now, so I’m outside with a small Sancho Panza cigar, pounding at the keys and enjoying the cooler weather. The bugs and toads are singing again, and everything is shiny and wet. The sky keeps flashing to the east and south, and a nice rumble will roll through several seconds later. There’s an ominous beauty about it all: serene and quiet, but it could all go to hell at any moment.

I should probably be working on a short story, but I’m physically exhausted and the mind is going a hundred miles an hour in different directions, so it’s not happening. I owe an editor and a collaborator some email, but those responses need more thought, too. Instead, I’m going to exorcise some of this other nonsense right here and clear out the works.

  • Cats are a pain in the ass. Ours has been missing five days, so we’ve been worried he got himself killed. Today, the Rugrats were fairly sure they spotted him in the field behind our back yard. They went to get a better look and he got spooked and ran, the little dumbass.
  • Today I snapped up The Baddest Ass, the latest Billy Lafitte book from Anthony Neil Smith. The first books, Yellow Medicine and Hogdoggin’, were some great reads, and I’ve been looking forward to this one for a long time. I wrote a review of Hogdoggin’ for Indie Pulp a while ago, and you can see a book trailer for The Baddest Ass on Smith’s site. If you haven’t read any of these books, Yellow Medicine is free. No excuses.
  • Because I’m told I don’t mention it enough: The Pack: Winter Kill is only $4.49 on Kindle, my friends. Expect news on the sequel, Lie with the Dead, soon. If the reviews won’t sway your purchase, you can get a free extended preview with the purchase of the Pack short story “Bravo Four” for only 99 cents.
  • I’ve got some more comics work lined up. Score. It’s too early to share any real info, but this is going to be a fun one.
  • The Jennifer Connelly Writing Motivator is my new favorite Tumblr blog. Okay, second favorite. But I can’t link my absolute favorite because I work for a school district and it would not be a wise move.
  • Of course, the day job doesn’t stop me from pimping my first novel, Deadliest of the Species. Only $2.99 on Kindle and it will also be available in trade paperback. No reviews yet, but it’s the book that won a Bram Stoker Award when it was first published. Try it. You’ll dig it. Find out why Edward Lee called it a “big, plush, hot, creepy, erotic gem.”
  • This cigar went sour quick. Not a fan. Pretty sure it’s a cheapo, though, and it may not have fully recovered in the humidor, so it may not be fair to Smoke Blog it. Let’s just call it caveat emptor.
  • Some of you may remember me mentioning a book called Powerless. It keeps getting back-burnered for other projects. I’ve come to the realization that while I still dig the plot and characters, the approach I had taken with it is way off. Time to scrap it and start fresh with a real outline.
  • Speaking of outlines, I’ve revisited the one for the third Pack novel and it will be off to my editor soon. I’m itching to start writing it.
  • While I haven’t always been a fan of outlining, I now find they are a huge time saver and can help avoid major rewrites.
  • The tub of Italian beef I buy at Costco tastes better than the Italian beef sandwiches offered everywhere I’ve tried in Peoria. That’s sad.
  • Holy shit. Sick Day was supposed to be a NaNoWriMo project a while back. Time moves way too fast.

That’ll do it for now. I hope to have that Chromebook review for you soon. Given a few recent conversations, I may put together something about how I use Evernote to support my writing, too. Tomorrow, I rewrite and resubmit a short story.

I’m out.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

On Readings

I’m not a fan of readings. Not a fan of sitting through them, and not a fan of reading myself.

I’ve been told I’m pretty good at it. I’ve given readings large and small, and I’ve had folks listening close. I’ve also had one or two where I could tell I lost the crowd. Problem is, the work can’t carry it’s own; the writer has to carry the work. It’s as much performance as it is writing skill, which is why readings are a lot more difficult than most writers realize.

This morning, Anthony Neil Smith pointed out another complication:

 

A writer versus that reflex to check the phone every time it pings or vibrates? Competing with that urge to multitask and knock towers over onto cartoon pigs? Good luck.

It’s more than just that, though. To me, why should I listen to something the reader can read for himself? Why should I read something from the middle of a book, when the audience will have no clue what’s happening or who the characters are? Two more reasons for the audience to tune out.

For my money—as in, the money I’d spend to travel out to a bookstore, crash at a hotel, down a drink or two—the writer’s better off selling himself than selling books. Call it a talk, a Q&A, or a panel discussion, now the writer is directly engaging the audience. Even if he’s just giving a speech, he’s able to maintain eye contact and monitor the crowd, not just keep his nose in a book, and the performance pressure is off.

On the audience side, one of my more memorable readings was given by Andrew Vachss. First thing he did? He told us readings are boring and we’d be having a conversation instead. That hour went by in a flash because the whole room stayed focused. Then he signed a bunch of books for us and off we went. It’s gotta be eight years ago now, but it’s still the first one I think of.

Now, if you’re the type of writer who has that performance side nailed, by all means, keep it up. I have yet to see Brian Keene flub a reading, for example, but we’re not all former radio DJs. His readers expect it.

The rest of us? Sell what you’ve got, folks. Better sell yourself and all of your work than to read one chapter and hope the crowd buys one book.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Dispatch from the Front: New Column Live

The good folks over at Indie Pulp asked me to write a column for their website, and I was happy to oblige. The first entry, “Darkness is Darkness, Blood is Blood” went live this afternoon. I discuss writers and readers breaking down the genre boundaries. Click on over and give it a read, won’t you?

 

Indie Pulp screenshot

Indie Pulp: Wallowing in the coolness of indie comics, books, and more

Full disclosure: the folks at Indie Pulp are part of the Evileye Books family, but you’ll quickly find they’re about more than just Evileye titles. Drop in and poke around for reviews, previews, and interviews from a cross section of indie creators.

Last year I wrote a review of Anthony Neil Smith’s Hogdoggin’ for them, and they also published the “Big Bad Wolves” comic short set in the Pack universe and featuring artwork by Mike Henderson.

If you’ve got an indie comic on the shelves or coming soon, drop them a line. Maybe they can help you out.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Stuff for Your Peepers to Peep

Evileye Books has just released the cover for John Urbancik’s upcoming Darkwalker, a beautiful, painted thing by Daniele Serra:

Darkwalker by John Urbancik

Click for the full scoop

John’s been working on this book—nay, this series!—for some time, and it’s good to see it coming together. I think he and the Evileye crew make a good team, and I look forward more and more to their expanding catalog. Right now I’m reading Cullen Bunn’s Crooked Hills, and it won’t be long now until we see The Burning Maiden available on Kindle and, soon after, in trade paperback.

Want to become an Evileye author yourownself? Now’s your chance: they are opening up submissions to The Burning Maiden 2. Guidelines available right here.

As much as I’ve become an Evileye junkie, I’m putting together quite a to-read list. Check out this trailer for Robert Swartwood’s Man of Wax:

Looks like a winner to me. Hell, it looks like a killer thriller flick.

More stuff to read:

All the Young Warriors by Anthony Neil Smith. I’ve been hooked on DocNoir’s stuff since I read Yellow Medicine. I plan to follow it up with Dead Money by Ray Banks, another title from upstart publisher Blasted Heath.

Shotgun Gravy by Chuck Wendig. I’ve been digging Chuck’s writing advice. It’s sharp and funny, and new writers should pay attention. Hell, even those of us who’ve been around at least a little while can sometimes use the smack upside the head. I figure it’s about time I check out his fiction.

Shotgun Honey. Throw in shotgun biscuits and you have breakfast. I hit this site every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for new flash fiction. Great little crime pieces, every one, and they only take a minute or two to read. Kent, Ron, and Sabrina bring the pain.

Throw in the hardcover copy of Sonny Barger’s Freedom: Credos from the Road I picked up to consume in brief chunks before bed, and this should keep me busy a while.

What are you reading these days? Drop a note in the comments.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Quick Hit

Had a long and productive Writing Retreat Weekend. I’m excited about some things I’ll be able to share soon, but for now I can say we’ve got things fairly well locked down for Lie with the Dead and a clear idea of how the third The Pack book will play out.

Meantime, I was recruited to write a review of Anthony Neil Smith’s Hogdoggin’ for Indie Pulp. Shoot on over and give it a read, and find out why you need to be reading Hogdoggin’ (and the rest of Smith’s work).

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Take Your Medicine May 1st

Anthony Neil Smith’s Yellow Medicine, that is. The book just hit Kindle, but Smith’s official launch is this Sunday, May 1st, at 2pm Eastern. He’d love it if everyone could jump on Amazon and B&N at that time and plunk down 99 cents for a copy and send sales ranks through the roof.

The guy deserves it, folks, and for 99 cents it’s one hell of a read. I first read it two years ago, and wrote up a review. Highly recommended if you like some good, dark, crime fiction and badass antiheroes.

Raid your couch cushions. Make this purchase happen.

It’s available for the Kindle and the Nook. If you dig it, you can get several more of his books for a buck each as well.

Put Yellow Medicine on your wishlist and mark your calendar for Sunday at 2pm Eastern. Download, read, enjoy.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

It’s E-book Week!

Lots happening. Things moving are moving so fast, my head is spinning. Unfortunately, none of it is of particular interest to you, so I’ll move on.

Word is this is e-book week, and folks on Twitter are recommending a lot of great books. Rather than toss out a few random selections, I thought it might be better to provide you with a quick list. Here, in no particular order, are some of my recommended e-books.

Choke on Your Lies by Anthony Neil Smith
I’m reading this book right now, and while it’s not an action-packed thriller like his Yellow Medicine, it is a strong, sordid drama filled with tension and great characters. A steal at only $2.99.

The Deputy by Victor Gischler
I read The Deputy just a few weeks ago, my third Gischler title after Gun Monkeys and Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse. Fun, fun stuff.

To the Devil, My Regards by Gischler & Smith
Come on. Two great flavors in one small package for one dollar. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s high on my to-read list.

Quicksilver by John Urbancik
Hot off the e-presses, John brings his dark fantasy work to the Kindle for the first time. I downloaded a copy today. You should, too.

Blood Feud by Cullen Bunn
Cullen is one of those writers who is about to break out in a big way. A few formatting errors aside, Blood Feud is a wild ride through a backwoods Ozark town plagued by vampires. The first-person narrative by one of the resident hillbillies really  makes the book.

The Pack: Winter Kill by Mike Oliveri
What, you thought I’d get through a post like this without plugging my own work? Guess again.

The Fever Kill by Tom Piccirilli
Another book vying for the top of my to-read list. I’ve been reading Tom since he started writing horror for Leisure, and now he takes that distinct, dark flavor into thriller territory. The guy can’t be beat when it comes to creating atmosphere.

The Blonde by Duane Swierczynski
This is one of those thrillers that demonstrated high concepts and science fiction aren’t out of the question. I started with his Severance Package (which for some reason isn’t available on Kindle), then tore through his entire catalog. That’s how good these books are.

That should keep you busy a while.

Also, a quick update: the To Fight With Monsters drawing has been extended! Response has been good, and the book’s still not quite ready to go to press, so the folks at Antarctic Press have agreed to extend the drawing deadline to March 22nd. Get your order in today!

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Ambiguous Endings

The Wife had me sealing the windows with plastic this evening, and as I set about the monotonous task of sticking, stretching, fastening, blow drying, and repeating, I got to thinking about ambiguous endings to books.

It’s not an easy thing to pull off effectively. In fact, they seem very subjective: either a given reader’s going to get it or he’s not. I like to think an ambiguous ending should come down to a binary decision, and the reader chooses Option A or Option B. It could be as simple as a light or a dark ending, a life or a death. Or the reader’s disposition could make their choice for them. Is his glass half empty or half full?

Yet ambiguous endings don’t always play out as simple as that. I can think of the endings of two books in particular: Brian Keene’s The Rising and Anthony Neil Smith’s Hogdoggin’. In both cases, the true action of the finales happen off-camera. Sure, there are plenty of clues pointing the reader in the right direction, but the outcomes are open to interpretation.

In The Rising, I thought Brian’s intention was pretty clear, and I liked the ending. However, he’s caught more grief for that ending from readers than for just about everything else he’s written combined. Some claimed to have thrown the book across the room, and others have been so vocal about their displeasure that Brian’s even lost confidence in it himself.

Hogdoggin’ played out in a similar manner, but in that case I was a little more disappointed. It’s not that I felt like I didn’t know what happened, it’s more like after all I that happened in both Hogdoggin’ and its predecessor, Yellow Medicine, I felt cheated. I wanted to see what happened to those characters.

In other words, I felt like those readers of The Rising. It’s not so much they didn’t get it, they just felt ripped off.

We can go back and forth about the writer’s obligations to the readers, but when it all boils down to it, it’s their subjective judgment that matters. Especially when they’re the ones plunking down their hard-earned cash for the products of our keyboard pounding.

Unfortunately, I think we’re further betrayed by our own medium. It’s all too easy to see the stack of pages on the right side of the book are getting slimmer and slimmer, and in both The Rising and Hogdoggin’ I remember the line of thinking went something like this:

Only twenty pages to go? Wow, he’s going to have a tough time wrapping this up.

Ten pages left. Wow. This is going to be sudden.

Five pages? What the hell? Can he pull this off?

That’s it? Damn it.

The “Damn it,” of course, could go either way: a wow or a disappointment. The point is, in both cases I saw the ending drawing closer and closer, and knew things were getting tight for the characters and plot. I saw the possibility of an ambiguous ending coming, and I started forming my own opinion of that possibility well before I got there. Not really fair to either the writer or the reader, is it?

Kudos to both Keene and Smith for having the sack to try it. No matter how the writer handles an ambiguous ending, there will be at least a few readers who just don’t get it or just don’t like it.

As for ambiguous endings in my own writing, I think I’ll sit that dance out. I don’t need that kind of grief right now.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Cheap Thrills

Have I got a deal for you.

Well, Amazon has a deal for you, anyway. Two great thrillers I read over the past year are now on sale at killer prices.

First up, Anthony Neil Smith‘s Hogdoggin’ is on sale in hardcover for just $6.71, which is more than $18.00 off. This is almost half the cost of the trade edition, folks. Hogdoggin’ is the sequel to Yellow Medicine, so I recommend you take advantage of the low price and grab both books. If you like antiheroes, you will love Billy Lafitte.

Then there’s Duane Swierczynski‘s Severance Package, a trade paperback for only $5.58. As I read it, I thought it would make a great movie. Sure enough, last I heard the rights have been sold. But why wait for Hollywood to get their act together?

I’ve been reading more crime than horror lately, and these are two of the books I’ve made the transition with.

Make with the clicky, people. You won’t regret it.

UPDATE: Today I found out another great crime read, Saturday’s Child by Ray Banks, is available in trade paperback for only $1.91. That’s the very definition of a steal. Not as action-driven as the previous two books, but you’ve got compelling characters and a seamless shift between first-person point of views of two characters. Well done.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.